The Last Stop
The mist is thick, and I cannot see through the window. All I know is I am moving. Where am I going? I do not know. Everything I own is in my old high school backpack. That’s not much but it will have to do if I want to survive.
Five days ago, I got the idea of travelling, moving somewhere else for good. Life at home was not particularly horrible but to tell the truth it was not particularly anything and that was good reason enough to move.
“Hello,” a stranger takes the chair to my right, “do you mind if I sit here?” He is tall, slender, handsome, something that walked out a brandy poster. “Where are you going?” I do not know how to answer so I lie.
“And where exactly is home?”
Home was two days ago. Home is so far away. Home is where my parents fight over who loves me more. Home is where my baby sister is starting to get calls from boys. Home is where my kid brother just learned to masturbate.
“Two. Three, stops, I guess.”
He holds his hand across mine, and smiles, a glint growing in his eye. “You’re lying. You have a tell.”
“You smile when you lie.”
My cheeks blush. I can sense it, a warmness that spreads to my cheeks to the fat below my eyes. I have to turn my face away.
“Hey, wherever you’re going I wish you luck. I’ve been everywhere and everywhere is the same. Take it from me, life is a long road to hell and back.”
“You sound as if you’re going to die, Mister.”
He whispers something to my ear and I shudder. He whispered my name. And, “I’m your husband. Just saying goodbye.” The train takes a sudden stop and I am flung to the floor.
Husband? I’m not married. I’m too young for that! The black of unconsciousness is pulling me down, and I remember everything that I have left. The strange family dinners. The people at school who liked calling me friend. It doesn’t matter, the dark is more comforting than the past. When I come to the man is gone. Vanished into the mist.
I look around and see that the compartment is empty except for an old woman sitting on the far end near the door. Strange, I haven’t seen her before.
She calls my name. Strange. She calls my name, the name I use when I lie to bartenders about my age. Disoriented and lonely, I have no option but to stagger to her. Now that I am nearer, I notice that she is wearing shades, the kind of thing that John Lennon used to wear. And now that I am sitting in front of her, I notice that she is pale. She must be sick.
“Little girl,” she wheezes, “This is the last stop. Everything will begin again, and everything will change. You will meet so many people. You will have the time of your life. You will meet a man, handsome, tall, something that might have stepped from a brandy poster. But, I warn you, this is also where you lose everything.”
The door opens and the conductor blurts out a foreign name that I do not understand.
“You can still go back.”
There is only silence between us. I know her, I think. I know her, I think, but I cannot remember. She leans towards me, and kisses me gently on the cheek. “I am so excited for you.” And just like that she is nowhere to be seen.
I stand, and pick up the shades my dad bought from me last Christmas. The mist hasn’t cleared up yet and I have no idea where I am. The tune just plays in my head.
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
BJC l December 2013